Friday, August 11, 2017

First Brick

I did my first brick in 7 years today. It was amazing. Bricks make me feel like a true triathlete, following a bike immediately by a run. Not only do they get your legs used to running off the bike, but for some reason, I actually like them. I take awhile to warm up, and I've found I actually run faster off the bike than running alone. Today was no exception.

The other day, I had to slog through an awful 3 mile run. My body was feeling under the weather, and I couldn't muster the strength to move my legs. My body felt like lead, and my stomach sloshed around nauseously. It felt very hot, even though the weather was a breezy 73 degrees (thanks Bay Area for perfect weather!). I wanted to quit. I wanted to beat myself up for running so slowly. But I made my mind go blank and just focused on getting it done. Not every workout is going to be stellar. What's important is that I still do them and not give up. Those tough, crappy workouts are the ones that will make me stronger on race day.

I was happy I pushed through. I took the next day off and have rebounded since. Today, I did a 21 mile bike, followed by a 3-mile run. I felt strong and fast. My average bike pace has increased by 2 mph since I've started, and I'm going faster up the rolling hills. Although this is not the first time at the rodeo, it is interesting to assess the difference in training since I've lost so much fitness. The gains seem to be coming back faster this time around. It helps not being injured or overtrained (probably for the first time in my life). I feel wiser and better at listening to my body. Let's hope I can maintain this new, more patient perspective.

The bike and run today were blissful freedom from my racing mind. School starts on Wednesday, and I've been caught up in back-to-school activities. It will only get worse. My goal this year is to maintain balance and be able to juggle a demanding teaching career with my training schedule. Even though I was tired from work and my mind was racing, as I biked down the road, my legs spun my mind into blankness. My to-do list which had been on repeat in my brain suddenly paused. I did not think of the upcoming race next weekend, nor the Ironman I want to do in a year. I did not even think of the run I had to do after the bike. I thought of nothing. My legs repeatedly revolved in a rhythmic manner, and my body became a well-oiled machine, quieting my anxious mind. As my mind went numb, I reached that blissful state I can only achieve for brief periods of time when I attempt to meditate. I relished in the freedom, taking my peaceful stat of mind with me into my run.

I finished the bike, grabbed my dog, and trotted off down the road. My legs continued to rock steadily in a high cadence. I thought of nothing except the space between each footfall and watched Juneau's tongue lolling out of the side of her mouth. The miles flew by. It was a wonderful workout, and I'm hoping sleep will come easily tonight.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

My Annual Fall

I took my annual fall this week. It seems I fall while running once a year. I was having a very pleasant, 7-mile road run with my dog, Juneau. A construction zone appeared ahead with traffic cones, funneling traffic into a narrow lane. The shoulder was being repaved. No room or signs for pedestrians. One of the construction workers was standing on the newly paved section. After a quick assessment, I decided to run where the construction worker was standing. If he could stand there, I could surely run through there, right? However, I did not see the "trip-wire" blindly hanging about 2 inches off the ground. Juneau gracefully hopped over it as my right toe hooked underneath of the string. I flew across the pavement, Superman style, landing on my knee, stomach, elbows, and hands. I grunted, heaved myself to my feet, and dusted myself off. The workers stared at me in disbelief.
"Are you alright?" one asked.
"Yeah," I replied in annoyance. I was not happy that falling was becoming so routine that I wasn't even phased. I brushed myself off and kept running, knowing a) my injuries seemed superficial and b) all inflammation and pain wouldn't begin until 30 minutes after my run finished. Besides, I still had 2 miles to go and running would get me home faster than walking.
I'm healing nicely and my injuries did not prevent me from further workouts. In addition to the knee wound, I have poison oak scabs all over both legs from 3 different trail runs/bikes. Apparently, I'm very sensitive, which is not a good recipe for living in Northern California where poison oak is rampant. Did you know that the itching lasts for 3 weeks?

I'm slowly clawing my way back onto the exercise wagon. I feel like I've reached the first tier of fitness. I'm back in shape again. I can swim 2500 yds, bike 30 miles, and run 7 miles. I feel healthy and ready to add more miles. Now, I want to start racing again, building endurance, and see where it takes me. I have to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew and end up inured or burnt out again. However, dreams of Ironmans and ultra marathons are dancing through my head. I have a long, long way to go. It's frustrating because I can see how much I've lost. It's hard to be patient and let my body absorb the workouts. However, I do best when I just enjoy the workouts, don't push, and let my body tell me when it's ready. I'm excited to see where this takes me.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Resurrected!

I've decided to breathe new life into this blog again to symbolize my return to endurance training. It's been a year since I posted. How did that happen? I guess life got in the way. Once the school year started in 2016-17, I dove into the classroom and didn't surface again until June.

Now that I've had the whole summer to work on myself, I've been doing lots of training and lots of reflection. I've realized that endurance sports are a strong part of my identity (as well as teaching). My goal this year is to somehow meld the two. I've worked hard to gain a modicum of fitness this summer, and I'm not going to give it up easily. I'm signing up for races and can't wait to give you some race reports! (See sidebar for list of races). Another goal I have is to not lose myself in the endurance training either, but to lead a more balanced life between work and play. I want to workout at a sustainable level. Burning out is not fun, and it's taken me years to recover.

I ran in Wunderlich Park today, a hilly, shady network of trails in the Woodside area. It's gorgeous, quiet, and full of redwoods. I felt like my complete self as I battled the hills, huffing and puffing, refusing to walk. It was exhilarating. For those 7 miles, I felt lost in my footfalls. I savored every minute of it. I'm excited to see where this journey will take me.

In addition, I'm turning 40 in October. I'm using it to motivate me. I'm excited to get my mojo back. I'm considering doing another Ironman. I didn't think I wanted to do that distance again, but after a few weeks of reflection, I've realized I have the hunger again. It would be a great way to get redemption. I can't think of a better birthday present for myself. Now the question is, which Ironman?  I would love to pick one in the summer when I'm not teaching. Any suggestions?